"Never trust your money to a chef," he said. Because said chef is either "a sociopath, a drug addict, an alcoholic or a womanizer … or all of the above."*
That, I would say, comprises the highlights of my notes** taken on a chance foodie encounter in Baltimore not too many nights ago.
The sentiment carries a bit of weight considering: A. The man I'm quoting is a chef; B. He has a business manager, thereby practicing what he preaches; C. He acquired his love of cooking from his grandmother who makes the best meatballs he's ever had. I give points for grandmothers.
He's Eric Jurewicz and, with business manager Tim Richards, he operates a kitchen in the basement of a long-former church at 301 E. Fort Ave.
We (group of friends) were casually strolling along Fort this night when we espied a sandwich board outside the church. It advertized coq au vin. The name of the restaurant – Fat Eric's. We had to check it out.
I made coq au vin once, following a Richard Grausman recipe, and loved it. But I always wondered what coq au vin would taste like if it were made by someone who knew what he was doing. Fat Eric might be that guy.***
I don't know yet because by the time we arrived he'd sold out.
We got to talking. Eric and Tim are from Minnesota (sports alert: I have it on good authority that the Vikings will not be sold to LA but the process will get scarier (for fans) before it gets ultimately happy), both are headhunters during the day (IT and engineering), and Eric trained at Cordon Bleu where he landed following a bout of higher education.
"College wasn't working for me," he said. Judging by the mango chicken over rice (a coq au vin consolation offering) that he whipped up while we jawed, Cordon Bleu did work.
Fat Eric's delivers or you can carry out, but unless you bring your own table and chairs, you're not dining in. I suppose you could eat standing up.
It follows the menu might be quirky. Each day Eric fashions an entrée that plays off an event in history. Yesterday, for instance, he served Italian beef in honor of Jimmy Hoffa being officially reported missing (Aug. 31, 1975).
Yet another reason to move to Baltimore.
OK, that's it. My notes became increasingly scribbly as the evening progressed. I see that I paid $15.50 for the chicken, which ended up serving two very satisfactorily.
And Eric's is closed on Saturday, because, he said, that's Date Night.
Makes perfect sense to me.
*No wonder so many people want to be a top chef!
** Technically speaking, the notes were taken while I was "off duty" so they may not adhere to my normally strict standards of coherence.
*** Check out the video.
Coq au Vin from Cooking Light, not Fat Eric's. But you get the idea. Cooking Light photo